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Gout

Symptoms and treatment

Gout is the name applied to an arthritic disorder that results from an accumulation of uric acid in a joint. Hyperuricemia is condition which indicates an elevated level of uric acid in the body, thus hyperuricemia is directly related to gout attack. It would appear that being susceptible to hyperuricemia is hereditary. Just over 1 million Americans suffer gout attack each year.

Signs and Symptoms of Gout

Gout is suspected when a joint, especially the toe, ankle or knee, becomes swollen and painful. The pain appears rapidly, affects only one joint and lasts for a few hours to a few weeks. The affected joint is warm, swollen and red. In most cases, gout is suspected when there has been a history of short-term pain in that joint. The only sure method to diagnose gout is to draw fluid from the affected joint (arthrocentesis). Gout is confirmed by the presence of crystallized uric acid.

Gout Treatment

There is little that can be done when gout strikes, so the prevention of gout is the best treatment. This is accomplished through diet and drugs. The drugs used are designed to control the uric acid levels in the blood. These prescription medications have side effects that need to be monitored by a doctor.

Diet for Gout

A common substance in foods is purine, which is changed into uric acid in the body. Prevention of gout attack can be avoided by avoiding purine-rich foods, such as some seafood, most shellfish, organ meats (kidney, liver, brain, sweetbreads) and alcohol. Some foods have moderate levels of purine, and they need to be watched as well: most meat, poultry and vegetables such as asparagus, spinach and cauliflower. Fruits, dairy products and low-purine vegetables help lower uric acid levels. Drinking water seems to help maintain uric acid levels.

Gout Pain

The pain resulting from gout is so bad that even a lightly applied covering causes excruciating pain. It is caused by the pressure created when uric acid crystals accumulate in the area surrounding a joint. The body recognizes the crystals as a foreign invader, and it attacks as if it were invading bacteria. Like any infected area, it fills with blood, pus and dead cells.

Cures for Gout

There is no known cure for the gout. However, regulation of diet and lifestyle can prevent and control onsets of gout attacks.

By Fran Moriarty

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